Up in the mountains of the Kurama area of Kyoto Prefecture, there are legends of tengu lurking. According to the myths these mystical beings, part way between a human and a raptor, serve a protective, if sometimes malevolent role.
Ancient legends tell of great warriors such as the leader of the all-conquering Minamoto clan coming to these areas to learn how to master the tengu’s mystical techniques and use them to crush their enemies. As a result of their help in creating undefeatable warriors, the area has subsequently been dedicated to these fascinating creatures and makes it a worthwhile area to visit.
These days most visitors are less interested in esoteric martial arts and more interested in the beautiful scenery and photography spots. While the peaceful Kibune village, relaxing hot springs and hiking paths are all worthwhile attractions of the area, the area’s main sight is its tengu austs. The faces on these plinths look almost human with only the creature’s long nose (often twice the length of the face) telling you about its mythical origin.
The biggest statue is at the entrance to the sacred Kurama Temple area, only a few minutes on foot from Kuramadera station.
Regardless of whether you wonder at the natural sights or the mystical history, Kurama is a unique and magical place. Just remember, as you walk down the well-worn paths, trending in the footsteps of great warriors, you may just see something vague and undefined moving in the distance. One thing is for sure, regardless of whether it is natural or magical sight, in Kurama it is guaranteed to offer you a special experience.